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WIPO's Misleading Release

The World Intellectual Property Organization put out a release yesterday trumpeting an eight percent increase in domain name disputes handled by WIPO. In 2008 there were 2329 complaints filed with WIPO, the most ever. WIPO uses the increase to raise questions about the possible increase in the number of available generic top-level domains.

While the media covered the story precisely as WIPO hoped (Reuters, Ars Technica), it is worth considering what WIPO did not say. First, WIPO is just one dispute resolution provider under the ICANN UDRP. The other large provider — the National Arbitration Forum — actually experienced a decline in disputes last year. Overall, the number of domain name disputes cases filed increased modestly last year, growing by just over three percent. Second, and more importantly, the growth of dot-com and dot-net domain name registrations grew far faster than the dispute resolution growth as according to Verisign [PDF], that domain name space grew by 12 percent in 2008.

By Michael Geist, Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law

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